Friday, June 26, 2009

Maira Kalman: And the Pursuit of Happiness

Maira's art is always stimulating, I particularly enjoy her take on fashion and children and own every children's book she's done plus some more adult books that are a treat. Her work definitely come from a single source, today's feature in the online New York Times is another topic I have a passion for. Maira takes us on a trip to Monticello.

Thomas Jefferson has always been a favorite of mine, a true Renaissance man, and I've made many a pilgrimage to his home, outside Charlottesville, Virginia. My daughter went to school in Lynchburg so Monticello was just up the road; I'd always wanted to visit and with her being close by I made a couple of trips there and then a couple more later. Every visit is a treat, on my first visit we were able to go upstairs, but they had to stop doing that--the Fire Marshall and insurance prohibited it.

Sitting on top of a hill, the house is an elegant addition to the landscape. It was fun to see where he and his new bride stayed while the first of many incarnations of Monticello took place. A simple square box, two-stories tall but quite compact which now links by a boardwalk to one side of the house. There's an identical twin on the other side. Jefferson was intent on getting the house just right so he built up and tore down until he had the house he wanted and seems like I remember he only lived in the final form the last 12 years of his life.

Maira captures the man in pictures and words perfectly and has me salivating for a return trip.


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